One interesting detail about this group of women is that many are proud to call themselves feminists. Barnard College president Deborah Spar says
We are having a moment. . . . Young women are identifying as feminist at levels and in ways that haven’t been seen since the 1970s. And these are young women who grew up saying feminism wasn’t for them, but for a range of strange reasons have come to identify with.Which makes me a little queasy. Not that I begrudge these women success -- if that's what they want, I hope they find it, and I certainly wouldn't want sexism to stand in their way. But missing from their approach is any sense that feminism might lead to a re-evaluation of our priorities. These women have fully adopted the model of success pioneered by upper middle class men in the modern era, climbing the career ladder to the corner office. Feminism was once allied with socialism, abolition, temperance, and other radical causes; in my youth there were lots of environmental thinkers who wanted feminism to mean a less exploitative relationship with mother earth. Now it seems to mean that women can be corporate pawns just like men, and let their thoughts and dreams be taken over fully by advertising agents and the promoters of slick conferences for the networking crowd. One of the dominant trends in the modern world is the transformation of human life into a system of careers and career networks where the most determined players of the corporate game rise to the top; join this to ever-increasing inequality and you get a world in which most of the sweet rewards go to the most avid seekers of success.
Is that the best we can do? Freeing women from the second-class status they have endured for 5,000 years was supposed to be transformative; it was supposed to enrich our world with new insights and new ways of being. Instead it seems to mean we all share the same muddled lives, regardless of sex -- the same jobs in suburban office parks, the same worries about getting ahead, the same burden of trying to balance children, marriage, career, housework, and everything else. At least, I suppose, we are sharing the muddle in a more equal way.